A biomechanical model for studying lumbar muscle load sharing for a class of physical tasks that involve gravitational loading (holding weights) of the upper body In an erect posture Is presented. The model assumes that the lumbar muscles balance the externally applied flexion and lateral bending moments. The concept of a 'loading plane' whose axes are the two bending moments is Introduced. Any point In the plane can be viewed as a 'loading-point' describing a combination of bending moments that are applied to the body. The study of lumbar-muscle load sharing revealed loading conditions that required activation or deactlvation of a particular muscle. The loading plane thus could be divided Into regions of activity and Inactivity for each muscle, separated by a 'switching curve.' The concept of 'switching curves' proved very useful for examining previously described physiologic assumptions on the loading conditions of particular muscle groups, and for grouping the 22 muscles described In the model into ten functional units. Electromyographlc validation studies were conducted and showed a high degree of correlation between the model predictions and actual measurements for the contralateral (with respect to the load) muscles and to a lesser degree of correlation for the Ipsllateral muscles.
(C) Lippincott-Raven Publishers.